April 2013, Jake Johnston and Alexander Main
The U.S. government pledged $1.15 billion for relief and reconstruction projects in Haiti. Key U.S. actors, like the State Department’s Cheryl Mills, acknowledged a “unique opportunity to ‘build back better’” and “an obligation to ensure that aid is actually effective.” Over three years have passed since Haiti’s earthquake and, despite USAID’s stated commitment to greater transparency and accountability, the question “where has the money gone?” echoes throughout the country. It remains unclear how exactly the billions of dollars that the U.S. has spent on assistance to Haiti have been used and whether this funding has had a sustainable impact. With few exceptions, Haitians and U.S. taxpayers are unable to verify how U.S. aid funds are being used on the ground in Haiti. USAID and its implementing partners have generally failed to make public the basic data identifying where funds go and how they are spent.
In the following paper we take a look at the effectiveness of U.S. assistance to Haiti: what we know about how it is being administered, to what extent U.S. assistance in Haiti is adhering to the USAID Forward reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure more effective and transparent delivery of aid to Haiti.
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